I know the door isn’t locked and yet I don’t dare to enter. She’s waiting for me inside. She’s sitting leaning forward, almost bent over, and it seems she’s doing something with her hands. I’d say she’s rolling a ball of yarn with her palm but that would be too trivial. It doesn’t matter what exactly she’s doing. She’s waiting. For me. I think she’s covered herself with some sort of skin. It’s like no one’s lit the fireplace for a long time. Do I still remember her silhouette against the flames? The curves of her body, lined with orange light, constantly changing in the dance? Do I remember or am I thinking it up?
I’m standing by the door and I don’t know who’s the victim and who the murderer. Both of us are both. I need her to be my mother but she wants me to breastfeed her. And my breasts are empty. She knows I’m behind the door and yet I can’t define the feeling inside her. It doesn’t seem to be hope. But it’s not complete resignation either. There’s still something twinkling in her eyes, behind the dishevelled hair. The coals are not completely cold.
I open the door and step inside towards the light of the bulb hanging from the ceiling. Have I just caught a smirk between the lips, parted for an instant? I try to see myself with her eyes. As much as I try, I still look shabby. She sees the hole inside my coat pocket and the motor oil stain, the spot on the right leg of my trousers worn out because of the rough skin of my knee and all the unwanted hair. She sees and she smiles.
‘No matter what you do, you’ll always be you.’ I’m already convinced that’s not a smirk and for a moment I manage to feel the mother in her. Then the smile fades away and she suddenly seems a bit smaller. I wonder what she looks like under all that skin. I haven’t seen her for so long… or, have I actually ever seen her?
‘Why not,’ I say and sit on the chair that lets out a screech under me.
She raises the cold metal teapot and warm liquid pours out of it, breaking the cobweb in my cup. I wonder at that although I know her magic abilities.
‘Tell me now, where have you been, what have you seen, what have you discovered? Have you become a normal person?’
Her words don’t hurt me. Nothing hurts me that much anymore. I listen through. I hear their automatic politeness. I know she doesn’t care about the answer to these questions, besides there’s nothing I can say anyway. I think about how her life seems richer although she never leaves the small wooden house. All these skins somehow manage to keep the warm in. My warm has long slipped away through the holes in my pocket.
‘If you bring some wood, I’ll make soup.’
I look at her, clutching the teacup. Maybe if I hold onto it tightly, she won’t make me go out into the cold again. But with a wave of her hand the tea disappears, the cup gets cold and dry and then full of cobwebs again.
No, she’s not my mother. She can feed me, but first she needs fire.
I go outside and I don’t know what to do with my anger. Let it out? What will it do to her? Will it make her take pity on me, cover me with her skins and make me another tea? I doubt it. I feel ridiculous in my yellow coat with a stain and a hole in the pocket. I take the axe with my dry and cracked hands. The cold wind is stabbing me. I want to cry but instead I raise the axe and begin to chop the wood.
After a while I stop feeling the cold. The chopped wood next to me is piling up but I don’t stop. My face and hands are burning and I would say every blow makes me lighter. As if with every piece of wood I also chop in half the burden I’ve been carrying.
I stop for a moment to catch my breath and take a look at the small house. Behind the drawn curtains, against the light of the lamp hanging from the ceiling, I see the silhouette of a woman. It seems she’s wearing no clothes at all. And her movements, slow at first but growing more and more confident, begin to resemble a dance.